The 2016 Robotics Quest is Underway!

This past Saturday, January 9th, robotics teams from around the world gathered in their bot shop TV’s as they watched the unveiling of the 2016 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition game called Stronghold. In 2016, more than 3,000 teams comprised of 78,000+ students from around the world will compete for glory in FIRST STRONGHOLDSM

The new game and playing field are unveiled and teams receive a Kickoff Kit made up of donated items and  components worth tens of thousands of dollars – and only limited instructions. Working with adult Mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the Regional and District events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

This years game is based around a castle theme, complete with moats, boulders and a tower.  Alliances of three robots are on a Quest to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower with boulders, and capture their tower.

Human drivers take control for the final 2 minutes and 15 seconds controlling their robot to:
— Defend their castle
— Retrieve boulders
— Defeat defenses
— Score goals from the opponents’ courtyard in tower
— Capture and scale the opponent’s tower
You can see an animated game description here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqOKzoHJDjA

Locally, our five robotics teams, Rockford Robotics (2039), Winnovation (1625), Flaming Monkeys (3352), Stateline Robotics (4655) and Metalheads (0081) gathered at their respective bot shops and started to think of designs that would put them into competition. They will start competing regionally starting in March in locations such as Peoria, Chicago and Milwaukee. The goal is to win enough games that they get invited to National Championships in St. Louis. Each team has between 25 – 30 students involved with this level of robotics: FRC or FIRST Robotics Competition aimed for high school students. That makes 125 – 150 students involved and a recent survey indicates many of them go on to engineering or science based college curriculum’s.

Our local teams belong to a robotics group called R2OC (Rock River Off-Season Competition). R2OC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit partnership of Rock River Valley US First Robotics Teams. Our goal is to provide an off-season event where FIRST Robotics teams can participate in a competition, show off their ‘bots to the community, and meet others who share their robotics enthusiasm. Planning is underway for the 4th Annual Off-Season competition to be held at Rock Valley College on July 30th. This event brings 30 robotics teams from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana for a day long competition while playing this years game. Check their website here: www.r2oc.org

As Dee Sternhagen, Flaming Monkey’s Team Coordinator says: “this promises to be another exciting year”.